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U.K. Pay TV Operator BSkyB to Improve Diversity on Both Sides of the Camera

BSkyB’s Stuart Murphy (above): 'Our aim is to kick-start a sea change in the on-screen representation of ethnic minorities'

LONDON — U.K. pay TV operator BSkyB has made a pledge to fill at least 20% of the leading roles in its new, non-returning entertainment shows with black, Asian and minority ethnic folk.

The undertaking is one of the goals the company revealed Monday as part of a drive to improve the representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people across its network.

Stuart Murphy, BSkyB’s director of entertainment, said: “Our aim is to kick-start a sea change in the on-screen representation of ethnic minorities on British television.”

The targets will apply to new programs on its entertainment channels, Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living and Sky Arts. The company said it wished to better reflect the diversity of its 10.7 million TV customers in Britain and Ireland. BSkyB wants to “play a leading role in making the television industry more accessible to talented people from all backgrounds,” it said in a statement.

Murphy said: “Sky is dedicated to making programs that feel representative of every one of the millions of viewers that watch our content every day, whatever their color. So we have tackled the issue with the same sense of ambition that we show in all other areas of our business, setting ourselves a set of tangible goals that will hold us to account.”

By the end of next year, BSkyB aims to hit the following targets for the new programs it commissions for its entertainment channels:

All brand new, non-returning shows on BSkyB entertainment channels will have people from minority backgrounds in at least 20% of “significant on-screen roles.” This commitment covers all genres of programs, including drama, comedy, entertainment and factual.

All of BSkyB’s original programs will have someone with a minority background in at least one senior production role. This is aimed at providing more opportunities for people with such backgrounds to reach senior positions within the production community.

Also 20% of writers on all shows will be from minority backgrounds in order to “promote a greater diversity of voices in BSkyB programs and scripts.”

BSkyB will offer a 12-month placement within its commissioning team to an exec from a minority background as part of the Creative Diversity Network’s commissioning leadership program.

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